Yes, America’s economy is a war economy. Not a “manufacturing” economy. Not an “agricultural” economy. Nor a “service” economy. Not even a “consumer” economy.
By Paul B. Farrell | Seriously, I looked into your eyes, America, saw deep into your soul. So let’s get honest and officially call it “America’s Outrageous War Economy.” Admit it: we secretly love our war economy. And that’s the answer to Jim Grant’s thought-provoking question last month in the Wall Street Journal — “Why No Outrage?”
There really is only one answer: Deep inside we love war. We want war. Need it. Relish it. Thrive on war. War is in our genes, deep in our DNA. War excites our economic brain. War drives our entrepreneurial spirit. War thrills the American soul. Oh just admit it, we have a love affair with war. We love “America’s Outrageous War Economy.”
Americans passively zone out playing video war games. We nod at 90-second news clips of Afghan war casualties and collateral damage in Georgia. We laugh at Jon Stewart’s dark comedic news and Ben Stiller’s new war spoof “Tropic Thunder” … all the while silently, by default, we’re cheering on our leaders as they aggressively expand “America’s Outrageous War Economy,” a relentless machine that needs a steady diet of war after war, feeding on itself, consuming our values, always on the edge of self-destruction.
Why else are Americans so eager and willing to surrender 54% of their tax dollars to a war machine, which consumes 47% of the world’s total military budgets?
Why are there more civilian mercenaries working for no-bid private war contractors than the total number of enlisted military in Iraq (180,000 to 160,000), at an added cost to taxpayers in excess of $200 billion and climbing daily?
Why do we shake our collective heads “yes” when our commander-in-chief proudly tells us he is a “war president;” and his party’s presidential candidate chants “bomb, bomb, bomb Iran,” as if “war” is a celebrity hit song?
Why do our spineless Democrats let an incompetent, blundering executive branch hide hundreds of billions of war costs in sneaky “supplemental appropriations” that are more crooked than Enron’s off-balance-sheet deals?
Why have Washington’s 537 elected leaders turned the governance of the American economy over to 42,000 greedy self-interest lobbyists?
And why earlier this year did our “support-our-troops” “war president” resist a new GI Bill because, as he said, his military might quit and go to college rather than re-enlist in his war; now we continue paying the Pentagon’s warriors huge $100,000-plus bonuses to re-up so they can keep expanding “America’s Outrageous War Economy?” Why? Because we secretly love war!
We’ve lost our moral compass: The contrast between today’s leaders and the 56 signers of the Declaration of Independence in 1776 shocks our conscience. Today war greed trumps morals. During the Revolutionary War our leaders risked their lives and fortunes; many lost both.
Today it’s the opposite: Too often our leaders’ main goal is not public service but a ticket to building a personal fortune in the new “America’s Outrageous War Economy,” often by simply becoming a high-priced lobbyist.
Ultimately, the price of our greed may be the fulfillment of Kevin Phillips’ warning in “Wealth and Democracy:” “Most great nations, at the peak of their economic power, become arrogant and wage great world wars at great cost, wasting vast resources, taking on huge debt, and ultimately burning themselves out.”
‘National defense’ a propaganda slogan selling a war economy?
But wait, you ask: Isn’t our $1.4 trillion war budget essential for “national defense” and “homeland security?” Don’t we have to protect ourselves?
Sorry folks, but our leaders have degraded those honored principles to advertising slogans. They’re little more than flag-waving excuses used by neocon war hawks to disguise the buildup of private fortunes in “America’s Outrageous War Economy.”
America may be a ticking time bomb, but we are threatened more by enemies within than external terrorists, by ideological fanatics on the left and the right. Most of all, we are under attack by our elected leaders who are motivated more by pure greed than ideology. They terrorize us, brainwashing us into passively letting them steal our money to finance “America’s Outrageous War Economy,” the ultimate “black hole” of corruption and trickle-up economics.
You think I’m kidding? I’m maybe too harsh? Sorry but others are far more brutal. Listen to the ideologies and realities eating at America’s soul.
1. Our toxic ‘war within’ is threatening America’s soul
How powerful is the Pentagon’s war machine? Trillions in dollars. But worse yet: Their mindset is now locked deep in our DNA, in our collective conscience, in America’s soul. Our love of war is enshrined in the writings of neocon war hawks like Norman Podoretz, who warns the Iraq War was the launching of “World War IV: The Long Struggle Against Islamofascism,” a reminder that we could be occupying Iraq for a hundred years. His WW IV also reminded us of the coming apocalyptic end-of-days “war of civilizations” predicted by religious leaders in both Christian and Islamic worlds two years ago.
In contrast, this ideology has been challenged in works like Craig Unger’s “American Armageddon: How the Delusions of the Neoconservatives and the Christian Right Triggered the Descent of America — and Still Imperil Our Future.”
Unfortunately, neither threat can be dismissed as “all in our minds” nor as merely ideological rhetoric. Trillions of tax dollars are in fact being spent to keep the Pentagon war machine aggressively planning and expanding wars decades in advance, including spending billions on propaganda brainwashing naÃ¯ve Americans into co-signing “America’s Outrageous War Economy.” Yes, they really love war, but that “love” is toxic for America’s soul.
2. America’s war economy financed on blank checks to greedy
Read Nobel Economist Joseph Stiglitz and Harvard professor Linda Bilmes’ “$3 Trillion War.” They show how our government’s deceitful leaders are secretly hiding the real long-term costs of the Iraq War, which was originally sold to the American taxpayer with a $50 billion price tag and funded out of oil revenues.
But add in all the lifetime veterans’ health benefits, equipment placement costs, increased homeland security and interest on new federal debt, and suddenly taxpayers got a $3 trillion war tab!
3. America’s war economy has no idea where its money goes
Read Portfolio magazine’s special report “The Pentagon’s $1 Trillion Problem.” The Pentagon’s 2007 budget of $440 billion included $16 billion to operate and upgrade its financial system. Unfortunately “the defense department has spent billions to fix its antiquated financial systems [but] still has no idea where its money goes.”
And it gets worse: Back “in 2000, Defense’s inspector general told Congress that his auditors stopped counting after finding $2.3 trillion in unsupported entries.” Yikes, our war machine has no records for $2.3 trillion! How can we trust anything they say?
4. America’s war economy is totally ‘unmanageable’
For decades Washington has been waving that “national defense” flag, to force the public into supporting “America’s Outrageous War Economy.” Read John Alic’s “Trillions for Military Technology: How the Pentagon Innovates and Why It Costs So Much.”
A former Congressional Office of Technology Assessment staffer, he explains why weapon systems cost the Pentagon so much, “why it takes decades to get them into production even as innovation in the civilian economy becomes ever more frenetic and why some of those weapons don’t work very well despite expenditures of many billions of dollars,” and how “the internal politics of the armed services make weapons acquisition almost unmanageable.” Yes, the Pentagon wastes trillions planning its wars well in advance.
Comments? Tell us: What will it take to wake up America, get citizens, investors, anybody mad at “America’s Outrageous War Economy?”
Why don’t you rebel? Will the outrage come too late … after this massive war bubble explodes in our faces?